By Bethany Silverman
On Sunday 22 November 2020, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews announced that COVID-19 restrictions would ease further after the state recorded zero new cases in the past three weeks. After months of hard restrictions and currently, just one active case of COVID-19 in the state, it’s looking positive that Victorians can enjoy a somewhat “normal” holiday season.
What you need to know
The following changes are effective from 11:59 PM on 22 November 2020 and apply across the state:
One of the biggest changes is easing the requirement to wear masks at all times when outside of your home. While face masks remain mandatory in some settings, they’re no longer mandatory when outdoors, provided you remain 1.5 metres away from people you don’t live with. If you’re not able to socially distance outdoors, for example on public transport, at outdoor markets, and walkways, you must wear a face mask. People must, at all times, carry a face mask with them.
There are no restrictions on reasons to leave home or restrictions on how far one may travel. Public gatherings have increased to a maximum of 50 people outdoors, provided social distancing is maintained. In addition, up to 15 people can visit a home per day, with no limit on how many households. However, this does not mean 15 people can come in the morning and another 15 in the afternoon. It is also recommended that a record of visitors is kept for contact tracing purposes.
There are no restrictions on hospital and care facility visits. However, different rules may apply depending on the hospital or care facility’s rules.
Childcare centres and schools are open for on-site learning with safety measures in place. For adult education, students and staff may return to campus for the summer semester.
Workplace and business
Restrictions on workplaces will begin to ease from 30 November 2020. From this date, a staged return to the workplace for small, medium, and large companies is permitted. Up to 25 per cent of staff may attend on-site, however, there must be staggered arrival and exit times. All other workers must remain working from home.
Shopping, personal services, and hospitality
From 23 November 2020, restaurants, cafés, pubs, bars, and nightclubs may open for outdoor and indoor seated service of food and drink. The limit on indoor seated service has increased to 150 patrons, depending on the size of the venue. Venues smaller than 200 square meters must follow the density quotient of one person per two square meters up to a total of 50 patrons. Venues larger than 200 square meters must comply with the density quotient of one person per four square meters up to 150 patrons.
Outdoor seated service has increased to 300 people, subject to the density quotient of one person per 2 square meters. However, there is a total venue limit of 300 people including indoor and outdoor spaces.
Entertainment, travel, and leisure
Travel within Victoria remains permitted. Indoor and outdoor venues may open provided the four square metre rule applies. Large events will be considered on an individual basis, depending on case numbers and epidemiology at the time.
Indoor entertainment, both seated and non-seated such as cinemas, small theatres, and small galleries, may operate with up to 150 patrons.
Music venues may open, subject to specific venue limits and COVIDSafe requirements. Casinos may also operate with limits of up to 1000 patrons. Electronic gaming venues must disable every second machine to ensure social distancing. There is also a cap of 150 patrons, however, the limit on how long one may spend in a gaming venue has been lifted.
Karaoke bars may open with patron limits of up to 150, depending on the venue size. Group sizes are limited to 20.
Amusement parks may also open but must comply with the four square metre rule and limits on groups and patrons.
Community facilities may open for up to 150 people indoors and 300 people outdoors, but groups must be limited to 20 people indoors and 50 people outdoors.
Finally, accommodation is open. Group bookings of a household and up to 15 people are permitted. Tourism groups and transport may also operate with groups of 20 people indoors and in enclosed transport, or groups of 50 if outdoors or in open transport.
If you have any questions about the information in this article, please contact the team at HR Assured.
Bethany Silverman is a qualified Senior Workplace Relations Consultant at FCB Group and HR Assured. She regularly provides advice to a wide range of businesses in respect of compliance with workplace laws and managing complex matters including disciplinary and performance management processes and terminations.